cover image What's Never Said

What's Never Said

Susan Shapiro. Heliotrope Books, $23 (278p) ISBN 978-1-942762-16-4

In raw and elegant prose, Shapiro (Five Men Who Broke My Heart) sensitively examines the subject of the one who got away%E2%80%94and what happens when you try to revisit an old romance. When brash, naive graduate student Lila Lerner arrives in New York City from Baraboo, Wisc., she immediately falls for her poetry professor, Daniel Wildman, who is 20 years her senior. As the tale opens, a now-happily married Lila attends the book signing of her former love, and is appalled when he doesn't seem to recognize her. But is his forgetfulness real, or simply a defense mechanism? Shapiro then leads the reader into the past, skillfully illustrating why Daniel's reaction is so upsetting to Lila and even leads her to think that her own memory is faulty. The author deftly toggles through decades, opening in 2010 and often moving to the early '80s, and from New York City to Israel, telling the story from Daniel's point of view as well as Lila's%E2%80%94lending empathy to a character who could have been the stereotypical older man taking advantage of a younger woman. Shapiro's witty, flawed characters leap off the page, showing the before, during, and after of a love affair. (Aug.)